Shaded from the hot sun by banana and palm trees, Judith peels and slices bananas in the quiet lull of the afternoon. She has mastered banana chip preparation to the point that her hands move effortlessly, even though her mind is on a million other things, like her five children and her husband who lives and works on a different island. Despite her racing thoughts and difficult circumstances, Judith is joyful. Perseverance and determination have their perks, she'll tell you. After her niece dragged her to the first International Care Ministries (ICM) Transform meeting as her visitor, Judith attended consistently until she was able to replace a participant who dropped out. What was first just a simple distraction from her daily chaos soon became a support network for Judith, surrounding her with resources, skills, and a strong community.
Judith has had her hands full raising five children on this land she is grateful to have inherited from her mother. Though she's been married for twenty-one years, she only sees her husband once a year, at most. He works in Manila as a pedicab driver to provide for his family. Three year old Nessa chases a chicken across the backyard while Judith makes banana chips, a skill she learned from Transform. She speaks about the overwhelming anxiety that has defined the majority of her twenty years living apart from her husband, and describes how the lessons she learned from Transform's Values, Health, and Livelihood curriculum have changed everything.
Before Transform, Judith was willing to invest in anything that might ease her worry and bring peace of mind about her husband living a life separated from her in Manila. Mid slice, she points to where she used to keep a prayer idol that she bought for $100, most of her family's savings. The Values portion of Transform deeply affected Judith, as she was introduced to prayer, music, and a God of peace. She quickly asked her local pastor, who she came to know through Transform, to remove the idol from her home. Although the circumstances with her husband remain the same, her relationship with God and her Transform community have helped her replace worry with prayer, and have taught her to have gratitude amidst the difficulties.
Judith has transferred the time and energy that she once spent worrying about her husband to supporting him in providing for the family. In the Livelihood portion of Transform, Judith learned practical skills such as baking, cooking, and gardening, that she is now using to generate income. Transform provided her with seeds for a garden, and helped her to identify and utilize readily-available resources, like bananas. The banana chips she makes only require soaking in a sugar and water mixture before she cooks them in oil over a fire built with coconut shells.
With the local elementary school just around the corner, Judith has lots of foot traffic pass by her house, and she sells banana chips, baked goods, and produce to the students and their parents. She dreams of having a storefront attached to her house one day, and that her savings will be enough to buy her husband a Pedicab in their town so he can live and work locally.
ICM's Transform program holistically improves day-to-day realities. Judith is no longer consumed by overwhelming anxiety, but instead is supported by a community of friends, finds joy in working toward practical goals, and is filled with peace of mind.